One of my favourite albums recently turned 25. Oasis’s What’sThe Story (Morning Glory) was one of the high points of Britpop and remains one of the biggest selling albums of all time in the UK. For me it evokes memories of the 1990s when work hard, play hard was very much the culture of the time.
The title track’s refrain of What’s The Story? seemed particularly pertinent to my twentysomething self as I embarked on a career as a news reporter on an evening newspaper. Every day was spent writing up news items and finding stories to offer for the next day’s paper, (while evenings would be spent in pubs downing lagers to hits from Oasis, Blur, Pulp and the like).
The skills I gained at that time – interviewing, news gathering, learning how to craft and structure a story and how to pitch ideas to editors –are still the key skills I use every day at Motive. Perhaps most important was the skill of identifying what a story actually is (and what isn’t a story). This is a vastly underrated skill and one which in my opinion many in the PR profession still haven’t mastered. There are of course, many other facets to the job, with media relations and content marketing being part of the mix today along with social media considerations we could never even have imagined back in the 90s. But telling a good story remains at the centre of every PR and digital PR campaign idea.
Story telling remains central to every PR strategy because it’s the way customers relate to brands. Great story telling touches on our emotions to draw us closer to the items we consume. It brings consumers closer to brands and transforms a product from just a commodity to something the customer actually relates to. Done correctly and with consistency, it builds trust and fosters long term loyalty – something every business needs if it is to grow.
Stories aren’t rare or even difficult to find. Every brand has its own unique story. More than that, every individual product has its own story, as does every team member, and all of these stories combine and contribute to the overall brand story. What can be challenging is cutting through the noise to tell the brand story in a concise and compelling way, and doing so consistently to a wide and growing audience.
Some Might Say
To go back to Oasis for a moment, they had a great product in the music, but the Oasis brand was much more than that. At the heart of it was the often rocky relationship between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher and the element of being a tough working class gang from Manchester who were taking on the middle class southern softies (personified by Blur but also the wider music industry) and conquering all in their way to become the biggest rock and roll band on the planet (which they actually achieved for a year or two). Oasis didn’t just ask What’s the story? They told their own in a powerful, compelling and consistent way.
We can’t all be Rock and Roll stars (although I can still remember the chords to Wonderwall) but if you want your brand to stand out in its market you have to define your own brand story and then go about telling it in a compelling and consistent way to as many people as possible. Don’t try to be all things to all people. The best brands are the ones who stand for something and for that reason they’re often loathed as much as loved. Marmite has turned this into a marketing slogan and Oasis certainly had almost as many detractors as they had fans.
Try to appeal to everyone and you’ll end up touching no one. Know your niche, tell your story and build your fanbase. Remember to roll with it, take your time, say what you say and don’t let anybody get in your way.
Summary: Stories touch on our emotions to connect consumers to brands. By defining your brand's story and telling it powerfully and consistently you will foster loyalty and repeat business. Don't be afraid to annoy, you can't be all things to all people. Think like a Rock and Roll star if you want to conquer the world (or at least your little bit of it).
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